I know I’m not alone when I say that I detest the winter season. It has only gotten worse in the past few years. In fact, since I have enthusiastically embraced the green living lifestyle, my contempt for winter has become a bit of an obsession. I may have to become one of those silver-haired snowbirds.

The thermostats are turned down and we have resorted to means other than our heat pumps to keep warm. It doesn’t always work, I should add.

I have gotten so cold that I have resorted to wearing those incredibly lightweight but warm Patagonia capilene long underwear most days. While mall shopping a few weeks ago I was tickled to find cashmere fingerless gloves that I can wear while typing. I bought two pair. And Brookstone had Tempurpedic slippers that I tuck my feet into at my desk. They pretty much park there because they are too clumsy to walk around in.

But winter is not without its rewards.

Last month, in the middle of winter on a particularly frigid day, I had the electrician here swapping out one set of programmable thermostats for ones that I can actually understand how to program. As we were chatting, I glanced out the front door and stopped mid-sentence.

A group of six Eastern Bluebirds was exploring the Purple Martin gourds that I have procrastinated moving in for the winter.

I watched, transfixed, as they moved in and out of the gourds and perched on the support poles. Once I regained my senses, I scrambled for my camera and long lens to take photos. Then I grabbed my Sibley guide to see whether it’s that unusual to see bluebirds here in November.

Apparently, it’s not unheard of for groups of bluebirds to stay northward and nest together rather than heading for warmer quarters. Margaret at A Way to Garden said she has even seen them near her New York home in winter.

Sadly, they didn’t stick around, so I’m still going to have to store those Purple Martin gourds.

In the meantime, I’m keeping a keen eye out for the potential return of Evening Grosbeaks. The Winter King Hawthorns that line the driveway near our house are loaded with the fat, red berries that attracted a flock of them last winter.

I only hope I am looking out the windows when they arrive. It’s my small consolation for having to dress like an Eskimo in my own home.

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  • I am so impressed that you were able to record them photographically…what a moment! Usually I stay transfixed too long to catch anybody.
    I am likewise jealous of those hawthorns. I can’t grow them, not because of hardiness (I’ve seen many cultivars in the cold, cold, cold Chicago Botanic Garden) but because of the incidence of rust fungus from our prevalent Eastern red cedars. Or so the best woody plant nurseryman here has always told me…but now I want some. Your fault.

  • Gail says:

    Hi Robin! What a sight it must have been…they are gorgeous little birds and quite lovely in blue with red trim. I do like your hawthorn lined drive. gail

  • Mary says:

    Hi Robin!

    Winter here isn’t as frigid but I still remember Maryland and dread the cold. Since moving to Charlotte, my blood has thinned and feel chilled when it’s under 45 degrees.

    It isn’t rare to see a flock of Eastern Bluebirds in the middle of winter in the Mid-Atlantic region. Back in 03, during a hard freeze in Delaware, I looked out back and saw a dozen of them drinking from my heated pond.

    Lucky you!


  • Nancy Bond says:

    What a lovely group of beautiful birds! Their color is so striking. And the hawthorns are a winter delight, you’re right! Personally, I love the winter — up til March and April when it seems to stretch out forever. 🙂

  • Jen says:

    I have to say, my own mouth is gaping open looking at these birds. How great that you got such nice photos!

  • deb says:

    What darling birdies.

  • The bluebirds may have been checking out the birdhouses as a place to roost.

  • You sound so cold! My goodness, you make me grateful that we did a passive solar design. Of course, here in North Carolina, we don’t have the prolonged cold.

    Our bluebirds are year-round residents here. The bluebird houses line our neighborhood fences and they peck for worms in our meadow all the time.


  • Rick says:

    So that is where my bluebirds went! To visit Robin on the east coast. As the bluebird is my state’s official bird, I have a fondness of them. They come and visit me each spring, and the spring of 2007 I convinced a nesting pair to stay and hatch out some. They are wonderful to watch.

  • Lucky you, I haven’t seen very many pretty birds here in Ohio all winter. We have a few birdfeeds in the back garden but they are only attracting robins and squirrles.

    It has been so cold this winter so far, we have a deicer on the pond and some birds come to drink the open water but mostly just a neghbors cat. Maybe he is keeping the birds away?

  • You made me cold just reading this. The bluebird photos are fab by the way. They were so cute peeking out of the gourds. We have a lot of birds here because of the feeders, but it’s cold here too.~~Dee

  • My mom was very fond of bluebirds. Kind of sad because we never saw them in NY state. Living in central PA, I’ve seen bluebirds try to settle in my bluebird boxes and in my martin houses… always to be chased away by English sparrows. The bluebirds do sometimes stick around all winter. Whenever I see one, I think of my mom.

  • Selma Roth says:

    I know how you feel. I lived on the east coast for 24 years, a migrant from California, and I hated the winter. But I have recently come to realize how much nature winter has to offer. It’s quiet and slow-paced, but special in its own way, like seeng bluebirds against a white backdrop! I’m determined I’m going to go nature walking in winter with a whole different way of seeing. Thanks for sharing these delightful pictures!

  • You are allowed to be warm. If you are wearing all that gear & still can’t keep warm, it’s time to turn the thermostat up just a tick. Heat pumps still use far less energy than the furnaces up north.

  • randy says:

    the only thing rewarding about winter is when it’s over

  • Patti says:

    I had seasonal BB in Allentown, PA, but they stayed all year at our home in East Hampton, CT. My dear neighbor and I were lucky enough to have them nest every year in our boxes. One summer we were even lucky enough to see all 3 babies fledgefrom the box. We planted accordingly, put out mealworm and did our best to protect them from predators, especially house sparrows.